Tuesday, December 29, 2020

#129 Charlie Fox

A true company man....long time Giant farm system skipper elevated to the big club....ironically grew up near the Polo Grounds and was part of NY devoted population....spent much of his early career in the late 40’s and 50’s being player/manager  for the St. Cloud Rox of the Northern League...future stars Willie Kirkland, Leon Wagner, and Orlando Cepeda passed along the way....In the 60’s moved to the Giant’s scouting corps, managing Arizona Winter League in the Phoenix area and third base coaching with Giants....managed at AAA level in Tacoma 1964 and Phoenix 1969....brought in to an underachieving and  floundering SF Giant team in 1970....at the time was four games under .500....produced a squad finishing 10 games above .500....follows up in 1971 with a hard fought West Division pennant and a first time birth in the NLCS....took home Sporting News Manager of the year award....it came crashing down however as 1972 uncovered an aging, often injured roster....subsequent years brought on see-saw results....dismissed mid season 1974....was able to resurface twice in MLB as an interim managers..... also rans Montreal (1976) and Chicago Cubs (1983).....hence served in various baseball capacities from scout to all the way up to Expos GM....As a player at the very start of career was able to make the NY Giants for 3 games in 1942....further time in a MLB uniform was blocked by catcher Wes Westrum who would be eventually be a Giant coach under Fox....known as an easygoing manager by players....recalled as having a talent for storytelling aided by a light Irish wit....passed away 2004 at age 82.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

#130 Bob Gibson

An exceptional career....intimidation factor on the field incomparable, maybe only Don Drysdale came close in his class....Tour de force on the mound in the 60’s and the early 70's....So many strengths....A player you did want him on your side, not against you...he was a Cardinal red from beginning to end.....Three time postseason virtuoso regardless of series outcome....a 7-2 W-L record in 9 complete games over three fall classics....owns two WS MVP awards....a clean sweep eluded him via the Cardinal seventh game loss to the Tigers in 1968....the only setback capping a MVP and Cy Young winning year....the astonishing regular season ERA of 1.12.....incredibly logged 28 complete games in  34 starts along with 22 wins....seemingly a manager dared not to take him out of a game...a stat impossible by today’s standards even when it is compared to MLB yearly total....post game he was aloof and distant, Gibson’s passion and drive to win was put out on the ball yard...sometimes to the consternation of teammates and press...spent a 4 month stint with basketball Harlem Globetrotters before professional play.....signed by the St Louis Cardinals and conveniently assigned to AAA squad in his hometown of Omaha Nebraska....Career might have never took off if it wasn't for manager Johnny Keane....the helmsman in Omaha, Keane saw what Gibson could be....Career flourished when they were reunited under the Gateway Arch erasing Gibby's first two underwhelming seasons that were plagued by racial undertones....Keane left after the 1964 championship but Hoot didn’t miss a beat with successor Red Schoendienst in 1965....won at least 20 games five times under Red's command....in all likelihood would have vied for a 6 consecutive year stretch if not for an injury midseason 1967 leaving him with 13 win....made up for his absence in 1967 WS....1970 his last year of 20+ wins, awarded him with his second Cy Young award....slipped a bit in 1971 with a 16-13 record but was able to get his only no hitter of his career vs. the eventual World Champion Pirates....against age and time puts together his last great season in 1972 winning 19 contests and lowering his ERA by half a point.... Exited playing after 1975 season as his effectiveness diminished....logged 255 complete games, it would take an estimated 7 seven years for all of baseball to match that total....took 9 consecutive gold glove awards and four time league shutout leader....no slouch with a bat either...went yard 24 times in the regular season plus add two in the World Series...Well know in baseball circles for his hospitality off the field...HOF inductee in 1981....recently passed away in October 2020 succeeding teammate Lou Brock by a month.


Saturday, December 19, 2020

#131 Jim Nettles

Note to Twins franchise....if a time machine becomes available, trade Jim Nettles....Not Craig, his far better known, multiple all star, brother....Twins could have greatly benefitted by keeping the consistent, solid 3rd baseman for the following decade and beyond.....After the trade Jim was left in the shadows to hold up the Nettles name in the upper Midwest....drafted 4th round 1968 climbed his up the Twins farm system....made a nice transition essentially from Northern League 1968 to AAA 1970 (lost most of 1969 season to military service)...1971 rookie year hit .250 in part time work which was passable at best....could not follow up and only hit .204 in 1972....returned to minors for most of his career....run of the mill stats in AAA but hung on to be an active player into early 80’s....journey included stops in the Mexican and Japanese league....was able to resurface in the show for the briefest of times.....42 games with the Tigers in 1974....11 games for the Royals in 1979.....one at bat for the Athletics in 1981....turned to managing in the lower minors after playing.....at the service of Oakland, Seattle, and Toronto organizations.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

#132 Joe Morgan

Recently in the news, having passed away October 2020....HOF career in three acts....First act;  Joe was as a very good Colt .45/Astro second baseman whose output was hampered by injuries, a poor hitter’s park, and questionable managerial relations....how good?  2nd in ROY 1965, once led NL in walks and once led league in triples....was part of an all first year player starting lineup in late 1963....two time all star but toiled in relative obscurity in Texas....Second act starts in 1972 as Joe is dealt to Reds ...Instant offense!.....elevates himself into superstar status and significant in Cincinnati’s establishment as a perennial NL powerhouse for years to come....First season in Queen City leads NL in runs scored, walks, and OBP....no let up on the accelerator in subsequent years....labeled as the most complete player in baseball according to Sports Illustrated a honor sandwiched between back to back MVP awards in 1975 and 76....coinciding with back to back WS championships for the Queen City....personal area of expertise;  getting on base not only with hits but with walks (led NL 4 times) part of which resulting in top OBP 4 times in 5 years time.....Diminutive of stature defied skeptics with good power collecting 25+ homers several times and went yard 268 times in career....5X gold glove consecutive....named to All Star team eight straight occasions, 10X with the aforementioned time as an Astro.... Fast, second in NL stolen bases seven times...Act 3;  beginnings are debatable;  A slow down began starting in 1978 and 79 caused by injuries would result in a loss of BA and 25-30 contests....Or it starts in 1980 by signing with Astros for one year...no longer the superstar but a contributor bringing veteran influence to a playoff bound squad...moves on to San Francisco on a two year stint....a return to the bay area where he grew up....notably was able to secure silver slugger and comeback player of  the year awards in 1982...most dramatic was his home run on the last game of the 1982 regular season to knock rival Dodgers out of the pennant race....Logged in two more seasons, one with Phillies which reunited him with Pete Rose and Tony Perez plus giving him one last WS experience....hit .263 and twice went yard...Finished in hometown of Oakland in 1984 and accounted for himself with .244 BA at age 40....busy after retiring going into business, broadcast booth, MLB administration, and obtaining a long sought college degree....elected to HOF 1990 on first year eligibility.... only drawback of career was second lower tier post season hitting (.182 BA) although the high number of walks offset some of the futility....signature motion, an arm flap while batting to keep his elbow up.  

Sunday, December 6, 2020

#133 Joe Keough

Career 4th  or 5th outfielder....best year was 1970 when he hit .322 but unfortunately was put on the emergency disabled list due to a broken leg on June 29th to the end of the season....1971 was the closest he would come to regular work;  showing up in 110 games, dieturning in a pedestrian .248 BA ....1972 the arrival of Carl Taylor. Rich Scheinblum, and Steve Hovley eliminated any more significant MLB action....Drafted by Kansas City A’s in the first slot of the second round of the first amateur draft 1965....climbed up farm system with solid line drive hitter numbers....made name for himself in debuts....on 8/7/68 hit a pinch hit home run on his first MLB at bat....hit a game winning single in the Royal’s first game 4/8/69....had a brother Marty Keough and nephew Matt Keough who had long, successful baseball careers....traded to White Sox for 1973 season in a minor transaction....spent majority of season in AAA but was able work his way up to the big club for a couple of weeks in July....Passed away September, 2019.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

#134 Carl Morton

Big Red....ginger haired converted outfielder turned starter....listed in the 1966 Sporting News Register as a position player....Although Morton was on the inaugural Montreal squad and pitched a gem in his first MLB game,  the fourth in franchise history; a scoreless nine inning outing against the Cubs...despite this effort needed more seasoning.... returns in 1970 accumulated decisions in his favor 18 times...Part of a 21 win improvement by the Sophomore Expos...Had an incredible streak of going 7-1 mid summer....Takes the NL ROY award....had underwhelming follow up seasons in 1971 and 1972 but Morton did not lose his starter status....included in deal with the Braves organization for 1973...it was a return to the franchise that first signed him....a positive move for the Braves and Carl teaming with Phil Niekro to provide steady pitching in a highly inconsistent team....won 15, 16, and 17 games in successive campaigns...only won 4 in his final year 1976....traded to Texas but did not get out of training camp....ended in Phillies AAA squad for his final year in organized ball, a natural fit for the Oklahoma native....Died at the tragic age of 39, in his hometown of Tulsa Oklahoma....convinced to switch to pitching by Paul Richards....good move.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

#135 Vada Pinson

A new Angel...wanted out of Cleveland for a gig on the west coast preferably Oakland or San Francisco but Anaheim would do....a career underrated and overshadowed, mostly and unintentionally by teammate Frank Robinson who happens to come from the same Oakland Cal. high school....So many tools....On the field; Fast, strong armed, good power...off field articulate yet demure, worked as a labor negotiator in off season...Incredibly prolific too; topping 600 at bats nine times in a row, leading the NL circuit twice....A master at garnering 200 hits which he reached four times, twice to lead the NL...Signed by the Reds for 4K made his MLB debut in 1958....a quick start quickly turned to a slumping .191 BA and demotion to AAA... Upon September return Pinson hits .412....A Red to stay after that....Frank and Vada become kings of the Queen city....Hit .343 in 1961 finishing second to Roberto Clemente in hitting....Production declined after Robinson was traded but still a dangerous hitter....Dealt to Cardinals for 1969 in anticipation of an all All-star outfield, but his results were hampered by minor injuries....1970  Trade to Cleveland rejuvenated his career, possibly in part AL pitchers were unfamiliar with him....led the club in most offensive categories in his first year, and led tribe in stolen bases in the following season (which was his 14th as a player) ....Continued to contribute as American Leaguer, logging in another year in Cleveland, two years in Anaheim and KC....finished his baseball days as a MLB coach...passed away 1995 but there is a continuing ground swell of support for Cooperstown.... At different points, he led the NL in runs (1959), hits ('61 and ’63), doubles ('59-60) and triples ('63 and ’67)....Arguments for inclusion are:  He is presently 13th in Reds home runs....3rd in MLB hits and 8th in stolen bases during the 60’s.... #1 in hits of 20th century LH hitters...305 career swipes, over 2700 hits.... Information from obtained from his children who are his most determined HOF supporters. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

#136 Darrel Chaney

Considered more glove than bat, more reserve than everyday player....Light hitting shortstop with little power.... a second round draft choice by the Reds who saw promise in the all sport star in high school....1968 landed at Sparky Anderson’s AA  Asheville farm team....hit an uncharacteristic 23 home runs, which drew the attention of Reds brass....1969 given a chance at short by the departure  of long time incumbent Leo Cardenas....a fail at the plate and for the next three years vying for playing time with veteran Woody Woodard and  then upstart Dave Conception....spent most of 1971 in minors....Conception finally develops into a fully functioning Big Red Machine cog, hence throwing Chaney into a late inning replacement....a 1976 trade to Braves reunites him with his first MLB skipper, Dave Bristol and gives him his only season of regular work....153 games and 492 at bats...personal bests in several batting categories...the second time in 11 years Chaney hits above a .250 clip apparently his optimal best...only to follow by repeatedly hitting at or near his weight the following season(s)....released after the 1979....Being a Red, got in considerable post season action....1972 WS: made things interesting in game 7 by getting on base via hit by pitch in the last of the ninth in game 7. 

Thursday, November 12, 2020

#137 Dick Williams

HOF skipper in various locales....known to be a turnaround artist to improve fortunes of floundering franchises.....but in fairness he also took over good franchises to the next level....end result was two WS rings and another two league pennants....characteristics; caustic, hard-nosed, knowledgeable, indifferent to star players and owners alike, sometimes to alienation and limiting his job security....Audacious, willing to go extremes in the effort to win,  just ask Johnny Bench who was handcuffed by Williams' plotting in game 7 of the 1972 WS....On the field:  Journeyman utility player whose most significant playing time came the second division team Kansas City A’s..... A bench player with Dodgers then the Orioles to name a few.... At the 12 year mark as a player, Williams arrives in Boston which represents the end of his playing days but clears the way for his historic role of manager....In 1965 immediately pressed into service as skipper of Toronto Maple Leafs AAA squad succeeding future managerial rival Sparky Anderson...Strong showing in two seasons results in promotion to the parent club in 1967....Bringing with him rookies Reggie Smith Mike Andrews with an already improving squad resulted in immediate dividends...20 win improvement to triumph in a wild AL pennant race and taking the Cardinals to 7 games in the WS....Captured Sporting News MLB manager of the year award....Williams continued to win in Beantown in 1968 and ‘69 but was surpassed by tight competition....undermining his tenure was an eroding relationship with ownership.... departed with a hand full of games in ‘69 season....unemployed, took a coaching job with the 2nd year Expos in 1970....Wanting the limelight again, resurfaced with Oakland A’s and the fickle owner Charlie Finley circa 1971... riding the wave of Vida Blue, Williams improves a talented squad over the top to gain AL west division with 101 wins....A’s fall to O’s in playoffs but the die is set for world championships in 72 and 73....repeating earlier conflicts with ownership parts with Charlie O and the A’s at the pinnacle of their mini-dynasty.....a valued person, he takes on the run producing anemic California Angels mid season....while some progress was made his 341 games resulted in .431 win%..... Next stop a return to Montreal coming off a 107 loss season...Williams repeated a 20 game improvement in 1977 and then another in 1979....advanced the team the Expos past its initial expansionist struggles... Williams moves back to California as he is hired by the San Diego Padres, another franchise with a history of futility....With a mix of youth and veteran talent built up the Friars to a NL West crown in 1984....kept the team’s focus after two lopsided losses to capture the pennant in an improbable comeback against the Chicago Cubs....While they fell short to the Tigers in the WS, Williams once again works magic.....Last stop was taking on Seattle Mariners....skipper for two half seasons and one full one....a marginal improvement but finished with sub .500 win pct.....Managerial totals were 120 wins over losses for a .520 win loss %....HOF induction 2008....Passed away in 2011.      

Thursday, October 22, 2020

#138 Mike Kekich

1972: 4th starter for the Yankees but in the future he would not be known for on the field accomplishment but a reflection of changing relationship norms …popularly known as a “wife/life swap” with teammate Fritz Peterson but further analysis Kekich and Fritz wife were only together for a short while and never married….Kekich has a straight California lineage....Born in San Diego and signed by the Dodgers...spent parts of three seasons in the Dodgers class A affiliate in Santa Barbara in the years 1964 to 1967....1965: debuted and exclusively played for the LA Dodgers but only on a frugal basis...Became a true member of the Dodger roster in 1968....most spot starts kept ERA under 4 runs a game....traded to NYY straight up for Andy Kosco...1969 and 1970 took on swing man role, some starts some relief with mediocre effectiveness...lowered ERA and garnered himself as a starter in 1971....continued on that path into 1972....won 10 games in each season....then the aforementioned  controversy....career quickly stalled in 1973 suffering a significant decline in performance that was not reversed by a trade to the tribe....Released by Cleveland prior to 1974 season....went to be a vagabond signing with Texas laboring for their AAA Spokane club, took on an unsuccessful stint in Japan, then returned to Spokane and a Texas call up for handful of innings....Got hurt in a motorcycle accident and was released by Rangers.... After time off for rehabilitation signed by the fledgling Seattle Mariners which assigned him Mexican League Nuevo Laredo to keep active....As a Mariner, did not pitch particularly well (5.60 ERA) but was lucky enough go 5-4 on a 98 loss team....did not make to 1978, washing up on shores of San Jose PCL AAA team and then another stretch back in Spokane....tried being a player/manager in the short lived Inter-American AAA league which quickly folded....not willing to give up on baseball played 2 years in Mexico...a serviceable career that may have been derailed by being a tabloid sensation.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

#139 Tim McCarver

Top of the line of NL backstop in the mid to late 1960s until the intro of Johnny Bench…From 1963 to 1967 was probably the best “true” catchers in the circuit passing by an aging Del Crandall and Ed Bailey… Arguably Joe Torre hit better and got more All Star appearances than Tim but Joe often took the role of infielder….Caught the eye of the Cardinals organization at age 17 who signed him in 1959….spent first year pro ball mostly in low minors up the Mississippi River at Keokuk Iowa…his .360 BA earned him a late September call up….The nurturing Red Birds then assigned their young prospect to his hometown of Memphis to engage the AA Southern League competition….responded well to home cooking hitting a .347 clip a two game call up…Given his press billing the climb to AAA in 1961 was a step backward….rebounded enough the next year to get an opening day birth on the 1964 Cardinal team….Never looked back, establishing himself as a regular nearly instantly….hit .289, 14 points higher than his AAA BA….hit also better than ROY award winner Pete Rose…but McCarver was 11 at bats past the criteria putting McCarver ineligible for the award….1964 stats were a clone of the year before but Tim’s pinnacle was his .478 BA in the world series as the Cards defeated  the Yankees….Next two years McCarver maintains his yeoman work…led NL in triples 1966, surprising batting stat for a catcher….1967 registers personal highs home runs,  RBIs, and full season BA….McCarver finished second in MVP voting to teammate Orlando Cepeda…. did not reprise his 1964 WS production but Red Birds get their second crown in the 60’s…..1968 and 69 McCarver down shifts to solid journeyman… but the birds make it to the 1968 October classic and hits .333 but Cards were downed by the Tigers….McCarver’s decade long relationship with St Louis is sidetracked with a trade to the Phillies….spends two and a half years with floundering club….Phillies starting to clean house in mid 72 ship him to Expos who are marginally better….from this time on McCarver is frequently traded and evolves to job sharing platoon work with younger talent….1973 reunites with the Cardinals for a full season and part of 1974….acquired by the Red Sox who use him sparingly….McCarver viewed his release by the Sox as the end of his playing days….A well liked and known personality returns to Philly looking for a broadcasting opening….pressed into service to provide veteran leadership for the up and coming Phillies….proceeds to stay for all or a portion of 6 seasons...became Steve Carlton’s requested backstop….added three playoff appearances….Once playing days were over Tim then sidesteps to a highly successful broadcast booth career which exceeded his time as a player….Retired from the booth in 2013…during playing days listed dancing and collecting matchbooks as his hobbies.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Back with #140 Pat Dobson

A prospect raised of the pitching rich 60's, beneficiary of expansion in the 70's...not immediate success but in the same vain as peers Mike Marshall and Dick Drago, …Never seemed to get a lot of love for his efforts....began by toiling in the Detroit farm systems circa 1960....roughed up at first...started to make in roads around 1965 making forward progress to higher tiers....Was able to crack the Tiger staff in a mixed reliever/starter role in 1067...pitched in 3 1968 World Series all in losing efforts; but the Tigers prevailed with the championship....Spends one more year in Tiger town but is shipped to the Padres for the 1970....Becomes the pitching leader for the sophomore team taking 14 victories in win starved team and broke free of his swing man label....Despite this effort, dealt to Orioles in six player deal....With the trade, joins a top flight offense, pitching, and defense... As a result he joins incumbents Mike Cuellar, Jim Palmer, and Dave McNally in a 20 win club...a feat that most likely will not be repeated again....Since the Orange Birds were reigning World Champs as case of the rich got richer and poor get unfulfilling prospects....Despite his 20 wins, gets little love in his time with the O's....sits out ALCS and has only one World Series start in 1971....1972 improves his effectiveness with personal bests in ERA and WHIPs....a team offensive slowdown resulted in a 16 wins and 18 losses....recognized by the league with a spot on the all star team, his only time named....Nevertheless Baltimore sends Pat to Atlanta....A direct flop with the 1973 Braves....Traded back to the AL East mid season...this time latching on to the Yankees and Dobson rebounds.....gets 9 wins in the second half of 1973 and racks up 19 victories in 1974....sticks around until 1976 when he was traded to his fourth AL East team, the Cleveland Indians....once again he put together another 16 win campaign....Comeback is short lived however for 1977 performance falls off dramatically....end result 3-12 record....released in April 1978...moved on to coaching at the minor and major league level....Passed from leukemia in 2006....known to be very funny to his contemporaries despite appearing often serious and humorless in early pictures....could have been an excellent broadcaster.